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Agenda item

Phase 1 Budget Proposals

Minutes:

Cabinet received a report as part of the Council’s agreed two-stage budget process, as outlined in a report considered by Cabinet on 25 November 2015.

 

The purpose of the report was to enable Cabinet to consider the feedback from the consultation undertaken to date with Scrutiny, residents, partner organisations, businesses and other interested parties and to recommend to Council approval of the Phase 1 Budget Proposals.

 

The Cabinet Member for Resources introduced the report, highlighting the main issues contained within. Gratitude was expressed to all those who had shared their views and to Directors and Officers in supporting specific events. There had been fewer comments received than at the same stage in previous years, this perhaps being due to there being no service reductions in Phase 1 but also perhaps that the key challenges and approach taken were increasingly understood.

 

The recommendations from the joint meetings of the Scrutiny Committees were contained within an addendum which had been circulated to Cabinet, along with responses to the points raised. None of the points raised affected the budget proposals directly and therefore it was recommended that they were all accepted and work undertaken as necessary

 

The addendum also detailed all other feedback received along with responses. Where the feedback included suggestions for saving money they had been reviewed and Councillor Seaton stated that whilst he was grateful for the comments, in most cases the Council was either undertaking them already or were planning to do so. On this basis it was not considered that there should be any changes to the Phase 1 Budget proposals.

 

The budget conversation would remain open until 5pm on 15 December 2015 and a further update would be brought to Full Council on 17 December 2015. A second set of proposals to close the budget gap would be published in the New Year.

 

The Chief Executive addressed Cabinet and provided clarification to a point raised within the consultation relating to the costs of senior managers. It had been reported at the Budget Council meeting in March 2015 that the Council had saved £1.5m over the previous two years on senior management costs as a result of two senior management restructures. There had been some further changes with there now being three joint arrangements in place, two with Cambridgeshire County Council, with the Chief Executive and the Director of Public Health and a further joint role in the Corporate Director Growth and Regeneration, who worked partly for the Council and partly for the Peterborough Development Partnership, where his costs were met by that partnership.

 

Cabinet debated the report and key points raised and responses to questions included:

 

·         At the current time, it was too early to confirm the impact of the spending review;

·         How the money from disposals to fund revenue spend could be used was still subject to certain requirements. Although there wasn’t a general flexibility, any flexibility was welcomed; and

·         All councils were facing a reduction in grant and upper tier councils were seeing pressures in Adults and Children’s Social Care. The Council had been focussing on transformation and income generation and only as last resort had the authority looked at service reduction.

 

Cabinet considered the report and RESOLVED to approve the Phase 1 Budget Proposals as the basis for consultation.

 

REASONS FOR THE DECISION

         

The Council must set a lawful and balanced budget. The approach outlined within the report worked towards this requirement.

 

ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS CONSIDERED

 

No alternative option had been considered as the Cabinet was responsible under the Constitution for initiating Budget Proposals and the Council was statutorily obliged to set a lawful and balanced budget by 11 March annually.

 

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